Each season brings a unique set of weather conditions to the table. In the PNW, the summers are dry and warm with minimal precipitation while spring is cold, unpredictable, and chock-full of mosquitos. Where we ride, when we ride, and what we decide to wear on our rides is directly connected to our individual geographic locations and the associated weather patterns.
Over the past couple years I have increasingly found myself choosing riding pants for the majority of my rides in an effort to stay—depending on the season—warm, dry, clean, and protected from the dreaded poison oak, ticks, and skeeters that blossom up in the spring. Below you will find four #rad women specific riding pants that are my ‘seasonal’ top picks.
Scott Trail Contessa Signature Pants ($160 USD)
Sizes: EU XS – EU XL (tested EU M)
The Trail Contessa pants are an ultra-lightweight trail riding pant from Scott Sports that features Scott’s DUROxpand 4-way stretch CORDURA fabric, a PFC-free DWR, tapered ankles, laser cut ventilation at the knee and mid thigh, and two side zip pockets.
I opted for a size EU medium in these pants, and they offer a loose, comfortable fit on my frame. I have previously worn a size small in their riding shorts, but was after a less form-fitting, more relaxed fit. The alloy “Alu” hook closure system is a unique but secure way to tighten the waist up without worrying about snaps, belts, or velcro.
It feels simple yet functional and once I am out riding I pretty much forget it’s there. The pants are also cut to be compatible with knee guards, the zippered pockets comfortably fit my necessities, and the inseam length is sufficient to allow the ankle cuff to stretch over my winter style riding shoes– which I tend to wear deep into summer.
Typical spring weather can include unexpected rain showers or random sunshine blasts as a reminder that summer is right around the corner. These pants excel in both the heat, thanks to the ultra-lightweight design (249g) and laser ventilation; and in the rain showers with the Scott’s DRYOzone DWR coating.
As the lightest/thinnest fabric pants of the group, I wouldn’t want to take a hard crash in the rocks, but so far the CORDURA fabric has held up to multiple seasons of bushwhacking and wash cycles. If I could change anything about these pants I’d probably make the ankle cuff more adjustable so that they can be pulled on and off over my riding shoes… All in all, they are well worth the very reasonable $160 USD price tag. Just make sure to avoid monsoons.
PROS: Super Lightweight/ Reasonable Price Tag
CONS: Not designed for downpours (not fully waterproof)/ Hard to find in the USA
Wild Rye Freyah Bike Pant ($189 USD)
Sizes: US 0 – US 14 (tested US 6)
Colors: Forest Fungi Sage, Mustard Poppy (tested)
The Freyah is a thoughtfully designed women’s riding pant that features ‘WRDuraStretch’—a 4-way stretch nylon, two zippered thigh pockets, tapered ankle cuffs, belt loops and a stylish adjustable cuff for dialing in/shortening up the stock 31.5” inseam length. It secures at the waist with two, genuine buttons vs. snaps.
I tested the Freyah pants towards the end of our 2021 never ending summer and was genuinely impressed with the comfort and the durability. The size US 6 was slightly loose on me, but a 4 would have been too tight. While there are no adjustable waist features, the belt loops offer an option for tightening things up and the high waist design tends to keep the pants from sliding down.
Even with the so-called slim leg design, knee guards easily fit under the pants. Thanks to the WRDuraStretch fabric, the pants stretch in all the right places to make pedaling feel easy, even with knee guards in place. The pockets are just large enough for a phone and are placed almost exactly where I like them: mid thigh and to the side vs the front or back where cargo can “rattle” distractingly.
Our summer trails are loose and mostly dry (even in the high alpine), the temperatures can be all over the place, and having that extra layer of fitted protection was a bonus. The WRDuraStretch fabric was giving, yet durable, and the unique patterns and bright accent colors really add a level of style that I feel most women will appreciate.
Compared with the Scott pants, these pants are significantly heavier in weight, and while they offer a panel of breathable fabric on the back leg, I probably wouldn’t choose to wear them on a 70 degree day. Wild Rye has also done an excellent job crafting a riding pant with a women’s specific fit and with perfect pockets!
PROS: Extended Sizes/ Well placed & sized pockets
CONS: Heavier weight riding pant/
POC Women’s Ardour All-Weather Pants ($250 USD)
Sizes: XSM – XLG (tested M)
Colors: Uranium Black
The Ardour pants are POC’s first women’s specific riding pants designed for the changing seasons. They feature highly waterproof (150000mm) fabric below the knee, a different but durable waterproof CORDURA material in the seat, an exceptionally breathable fabric (30000gsm/24hr) above the knee, two secure zippered hand pockets, elasticated ankle cuffs, and velcro waist adjusters.
I tested these pants in a size medium and they offered a spot on fit in the waist, and a loose relaxed design from the hips down. The fabric is less stretchy than the Wild Rye or Scott pants, but still plenty loose enough that pedaling is unrestricted. A variety of knee guards easily fit under the pants, and the tapered leg design kept the excess material away from my drivetrain. The ankle cuff has a small elastic band in the back that allows me to pull the pants down over my high top winter riding shoes to keep water from draining into them.
For someone who wears low tops, this may or may not work; opting for a waterproof sock may be the way for low top users to go. Most wet weather specific riding pants that I have tested tend to have a wider, more adjustable cuff that easily fits over riding shoes. This particular design limits that function, and I will also note that the ankle cuff is fairly tight, and for someone with large bulky feet (like my 14-year old son), it can be a battle to pull the pants over the feet. The pockets were easily accessed but on the smaller side.
I tested these POC pants in a variety of conditions, including cold dry temperatures in Colorado, along with wet, muddy laps on my hometown trails. The Ardours excelled in the muddy and rainy fall weather, and did an excellent job at keeping me warm and dry. They are light and comfortable and are easily my top pick for boggy conditions.
PROS: Highly waterproof/ Lightweight
CONS: Expensive/ Phone barely fits in zippered pocket
Endura MT500 Baggy Spray Trouser II ($180 USD)
Sizes: XS – XXL (tested S)
The Endura Women’s MT500 Spray Baggy Trousers II are a rugged, performance riding trouser designed for trail riding in the worst weather Scotland can throw at you, short of a highland blizzard. They feature four-way stretch front panels treated with a DWR coating and a waterproof rear panel with taped seams, double button/fly closure with Velcro side waist adjusters, two zippered hand pockets, two zippered thigh vents, and a gusseted/zippered ankle hem.
Per the Endura size chart, I am a size small in their “trousers”. Their apparel runs on the larger size, so make sure to try on or check the size chart before ordering. These pants are more fitted than the POC’s but still have a 4-way stretch front panel for comfort and a knee pad friendly cut that offers ample room for movement when pedaling. The generously zippered ankle cuff makes it ridiculously easy to pull the pants over riding shoes, and the wider style ankle cuff keeps water from dripping into shoes (unless you are of the “tall, one size all inseam doesn’t fit me” category).
These pants mix warmth and water repellency with performance brilliantly. While it’s easy to find off-brand rain shell style riding pants that will keep you ultra dry in a monsoon, they typically lack in the comfort and breathability arena—think trash bags for your legs. But the MT500’s hit both those marks and have the added bonus of zippered vents for extended climbs or warmer temps.
I’m on my third edition of the MT500 Spray Trousers, and they remain a staple in my winter riding locker. They continually win in the comfort and warmth category and are hands down my top pick for colder temperatures and unpredictable weather riding adventures.
PROS: Waterproof/ Excellent for colder temperatures
CONS: Less stretchy/ Heavier material
Photos: Colin Meagher